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THINK QUICK: what comes to mind when you think of the word ‘summer’? For me, I think of ice cream. And heat and sprinklers and fireworks and grilling and beaches and bathing suit season (eek) and the smell of sunscreen. And about a million other things, but first and foremost I think, “score, the season when I can reasonably talk Alex into ice cream has arrived.”
While I pretty much each ice cream year round – I’ve been known to ask for it during a snow storm – Alex is not a sweets fan and ice cream isn’t his numbero uno treat. I try not to whine about it too much but the second summer hits and I can eat a soft serve twist with sprinkles outside rather than in the car with the heat blasting, his arguments against it start to sound like the teacher in Charlie Brown.
That being said, it’s much easier to convince Alex to indulge if we have the goods in our own freezer so that we don’t have to venture out. As a kid, I loved those classic chocolate-vanilla ice cream sandwiches and I’ve been known to stock our freezer with them a few times. I loved how the soft chocolate cookie kind of stuck to your fingers as it all softened, the creamy ice cream the perfect almost soft serve texture. I’ve tried making a few substitutes at home – from using store bought chocolate cookies, baking brownies and using them, and even just veering off and using chocolate chip cookies (my all time favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe is amazing with vanilla!) but I never really found something that could take the place of the classic. Until now.
This recipe is kind of like a recipe from that show, Semi-Homemade. It’s more work that just grabbing them from the freezer section of the grocery store, but you’re not spending 18 hours and 4760 dirty dishes. Nope, instead you just grab a box of cake mix, your favorite Blue Bunny® ice cream, and sprinkles – everything dreams are made of. When it comes to summer, I believe in keeping things simple. But on the other hand, I tend to like to impress people because I’m human and I want people to think I’m cool. So a little elbow grease + a little bit of store bought goodness is kind of my sweet spot.
Sprinkle Ice Cream Sandwiches
These sprinkle ice cream sandwiches are a perfect balance. First, you need to make the ‘bread’ part of your sandwich. Take a boxed cake mix (I used devil’s food cake) and make your batter as per the recipe on the back, excluding 1/4 cup of water to make a bit of a thicker batter. Split your batter in half into 2 7×11 cake pans lined with parchment paper – mine ended up being exactly 2 cups of batter per pan. Bake it until just cooked through, about 10-12 minutes in my experience.
Once the cakes are baked, place them side by side on a cookie sheet, top with a piece of parchment and another cookie sheet before weighting it down to compress the cakes. I used a cast iron pan and pot, but just use something heavy and let it go as long as you can, up to a day. When you’re ready to assemble, take your ice cream from the freezer and allow it to sit out for a few minutes to soften and be spreadable.
The best part about this recipe is how customizable it is – you’re not stuck with just one or two flavors to make it. Whatever flavors you enjoy, go for it! For mine, I used Blue Bunny® Bunny Tracks® and Blue Bunny® Mint Cookie Crunch. You can either create kind of a checkerboard pattern when scooping the ice cream to create a swirled style or do half and half. It’s up to you.
I grabbed my ice cream at Walmart, where I was pretty impressed with their wide variety of flavors. I always think of Blue Bunny® as the ice cream of summer – I mean, they are the creator of The Original Bomb Pop® so there’s that – which made the choice for what ice cream to use an easy one. I love that Blue Bunny® has so many fun and playful flavor options as well as your traditional, classic flavors so there is something for everyone and it opens doors to make tons of fun treats! It made it easy to pick a flavor for me (Bunny Tracks®) and one for Alex (Mint Cookie Crunch) so that we could enjoy our own treats together.
Once compressed, place on cake sheet into a 7×11 pan before adding your ice cream. Once you spread your ice cream out nice and evenly, (I used about half of each container) top it with your other cake and press it gently but firmly into the ice cream before sending to the freezer to solidify.
After a few hours in the freezer, you’re good to cut. You’ve got a few options – you can cut the cakes into traditional rectangles or use cookie cutters to make fun shapes. First, though, remove your ice cream and cake from the pan. I trimmed about .25 – .5 inch from each side to make clean cuts, but it’s not necessary. It does give you some tasty scraps, though 😉
Once cut, you’re free to enjoy, but I take it a step further because that’s how I do. Pour sprinkles onto a plate or shallow bowl and dip each edge of your sandwich into the sprinkles to pick up the pretty bits and make your sprinkle ice cream sandwiches even more of a celebration. Who doesn’t love sprinkles, right? If you have older kids, this is a great job to give them. If you have younger kids, you understand that giving a 3-year-old a bowl full of sprinkles sounds fun but will undeniably end horribly. To make the sprinkle adhering happen easier, let your cut sandwiches sit a bit to get soft on the edges and then freeze again after applying the sprinkles.
These would be a lot of fun for a party – just set them out on a platter – but if you’re making them to last a bit, wrap them individually in parchment paper to keep them fresh in your freezer.
You could easily switch out the cake and ice cream flavors to reflect a party theme or kid’s interest. I think strawberry cake and ice cream + pink sprinkles would be so cute for a little girl’s princess party!
Take a few minutes to make these and I promise you won’t regret it – plus, everyone will think you’re super cool for making your own sprinkle ice cream sandwiches. If your kids are a little older, I think this would be a great opportunity to get together on a rainy summer day and put them together. Have your kids choose the cake and ice cream flavor, mix the batter, spread the ice cream, cut the sandwiches and dip them in fun sprinkles. What a fun way to get your kids in the kitchen this summer!
Okay, so tell me – what’s your favorite ice cream flavor? Are you into doing things totally from scratch, buying them at the store, or a mix of both? Let me know in the comments!
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